Do you ever think about living a moral life as a burden? I’ll be honest, sometimes I do. Maybe it’s just because we all have so much on our plates, but pursuing virtue can seem like one more thing on my task list. Give generously to those in need? Check. Do something nice for a family member? Check. Refrain from losing my temper when my kids do something bad? Um….sometimes check.
And yet, we know that’s not all there is to the story. True, in the first reading, we are told that the rebellious city will be visited by woe whose citizens “hears no voice, accepts no correction.” Then, in the Gospel we are reminded that it’s important to do the Father’s work, even if we do so reluctantly. So we know that following God’s commands is key to living the Christian life. Yet, what opened my eyes in today’s readings were these words from the Psalmist:
“I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.”
He isn’t just talking about having a run-of-the-mill decent day. What is expressed here is true joy–finding joy in the Lord “at all times”. He speaks of a joy so attractive, in fact, that others hear it and are glad. He also tells us how we can find this joy: “Look to him that you may be radiant with joy.”
It is this encounter with the Lord, one that we hopefully enter into particularly at Christmastime, that allows us to sing with gusto “Joy to the world” on Christmas Day. In other words, I think sometimes as Christians we have it backwards–we think of following the rules as the primary part of our Christian identity. When, instead, when we truly meet Christ and seek Him each day, our life becomes a song of praise and living morally no longer becomes a burden, but an expression of joy in, and love for, our Savior.
Caitlin Bootsma is the Communications Director for Fuzati, a strategic marketing and technology company that serves a wide variety of Catholic organizations. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two red-headed sons and is looking forward to the joy of her third child being born right around Christmas.